Purchase and registration of a car in California

Purchase and registration of a car in California

If you've never bought a car in the US, you may be unsure about the process. We've put together some information to help you understand what it's like to buy a vehicle in the United States, California for non-residents.

Buying a car from a dealer in the USA

Buying a car from a dealer can be a good choice.

Dealers inspect and service vehicles before putting them up for sale, so there's a good chance that a car purchased from a dealer is in working order.

But a car dealer has to meet a number of requirements before selling a car to anyone, and this can be a problem if the buyer is a foreign visitor.

To purchase a vehicle in the United States, you and the dealer must complete the following steps:

  1. Identity verification
    By law, American car dealers are required to verify the identity of all vehicle buyers.

    For international visitors, identity verification rules create challenges for dealerships. International visitors usually have to visit the dealership in person to complete the purchase process.

    You must carry identification and proof of your legal status in the United States.

  2. Credit check
    While dealers will accept credit cards for a down payment (usually $500 to $1,000) to take a car off the market, they typically won't accept full payment for the car by credit card because credit card companies charge a 3-5 %.

    Instead, dealers accept full payment via ACH (Automated Clearing House, American Interbank Payment System), wire transfer, or financing agreement.

    For buyers without a credit rating in the US, the dealer must make a decision. If the buyer is physically present at the dealership, the dealer may decide to proceed with the sale (especially if the buyer has cash). But if the buyer does not have a US credit rating and is not physically present at the dealership, the dealer may decide not to proceed with the sale.
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